Bacon and Leek Arancini (Fried Risotto Balls)

By: Irvin Lin

  • Yield: 36 appetizer size balls
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Course: Appetizer


  • 4 pieces thick-cut bacon, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 medium leek, chopped, white and pale green part only
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 1/2 tp 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • Oil for frying, (about 34-ounces or 1 liter)


  1. Place the diced bacon in the pan cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, or until the bacon fat starts to render out. Add the chopped leeks and cook for an additional 2 minutes or until the leeks start to soften. Add the rice to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, for an additional 2 minutes or until the rice starts to turn translucent. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the wine is nearly completely absorbed by the rice. Add the chicken stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring and cooking until the rice absorbs the stock before adding more stock. Continue adding and cooking the rice until 3 1/2 cups of stock is used. Taste the rice and if it is still too firm add the remaining 1/2 cup of stock. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let sit to cool to room temperature, about an hour.
  2. Once the risotto has cooled, place the Panko bread crumbs, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Place the eggs in a medium bowl and beat with a fork until uniform in color. Wet your hands with water and using your fingers, scoop up about 1 tablespoon of the risotto and flatten it in to a thin disk in the middle of the palm of your hand. Place a cube of the mozzarella in the middle of the disk and make then make a fist with your hand, forming a ball of risotto around the mozzarella. Gently squeeze the risotto ball so it forms a tight ball around the cheese, forming a ball about 1-inch in diameter. Roll the ball in the beaten egg then in the herb panko crumbs. Place on a plate or a baking sheet and continue with the remaining risotto and cheese forming crumb coated balls.
  3. Once you’ve formed all the risotto balls, pour enough oil into the frying pan so it’s about 1/2 way up the sides of the pan. Heat the oil to 350˚F. Fry the risotto balls in batches, making sure not to crowd the pan too much, turning the balls as they fry with tongs for about 4-5 minutes or until they are a deep golden brown. Remove from the oil and place on a wire rack on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Let cool slightly before serving.